As the highest-ranked American in the field and No. 2 in the world overall, Stacy Lewis knew people were looking to her as a potential contender for the 67th U.S. Women’s Open title.
After Lewis opened with a dyspeptic and disappointing 5-over-par 77 at Blackwolf Run Thursday, many people had to wonder if Lewis hadn’t already started looking for her luggage.
The ůber-competitive Lewis wasn’t about to go that quietly or quickly.
After an opening bogey to her second round, Lewis finally got her head and her game squared away, and the result was a 3-under-par 69 Friday that ensured the three-time LPGA winner would remain in the championship chase.
At 2-over 146, Lewis, 27, trails leader Suzann Pettersen by seven shots.
"You know, I actually didn't play that bad yesterday," Lewis said. "I just kind of let a few things get to me. My attitude was not very good, and I came out today, I didn't really have anything to lose, and I knew I was playing well. So just a little better attitude."
A better score ensued once she sank an 8-foot birdie putt on the par-5 second hole that erased her early error and boosted her flagging confidence. That was huge, she said.
So was making the cut after such high expectations at the start of the week, not that Lewis was letting herself think about the prospects of an early exit.
"I kind of looked at it as chipping away at the lead, so that makes me not focus on the cut," she said. "If I can get to under par tomorrow, I think I'll be in a good spot. I'm happy I came back and played better today."
Some other players played better, some worse, but altogether it added up to 65 making the cut of low 60 and ties. The cut came at 5-over 149, just a stroke lower than the 150 required to play 72 holes in the 1998 Open here at Blackwolf Run, when par was 71.
Notable among those who improved was England’s Melissa Reid, who also shot 69 and survived at 4-over 148. Reid, coming off her fourth career title last week at the Raiffeisenbank Prague on the Ladies European Tour, is one of the inspirational stories of the championship, competing a little more than a month after her mother, Joy, was killed in an automobile accident in Germany.
"Obviously you want to play on the weekend," said Reid, 24, making her second Women’s Open start. "After my round yesterday, obviously it would mean a lot. I kind of took myself completely out of the tournament yesterday, but a good round today has definitely given me a chance."
As for continuing to compete amid difficult personal circumstances, Reid said she’d been buoyed by the support from players and the golf community, as well as fans. "It’s been quite tough, though," she admitted. Golf is very far down the pecking order in a sense."
On the other end of the spectrum was Brittany Lincicome, one of the first-round tri-leaders. The Floridian followed an opening 69 with an 80 and barely survived, making the cut on the number.
"You get it in the wrong place here and there, and it's tough," Lincicome said. "You go out and feel like you did so good yesterday, and I had no idea what happened today."
Two-time champion Karrie Webb, playing in the same threesome with Lincicome, was well below the cutline after three bogeys in her first five hole, but the Australian righted the ship with a burst of four birdies around the turn, and carded 72-147. Other past U.S. Open champions sticking around include the 2011 winner So Yeon Ryu, who came in with 71-145.
Inbee Park, who won in 2008 and has three other top-10 finishes in the U.S. Women’s Open in just six appearances, was among the leaders after a 70 gave her a 3-under 141 total, two behind Pettersen.
Paula Creamer, the 2010 champion, carded her second consecutive 73. Joining her at 146 was Yani Tseng, the No. 1 player on the Rolex Women’s World Rankings. Tseng bogeyed three of her last five holes for a 72 that left her among a group seven back.
Of the 10 players who also competed here in 1998, just three made the cut in their return. One was Webb and another was Se Ri Pak, the winner from 14 years ago. Pak shot 73 to complete 36 holes in 1-over 145. Nicole Castrale, who played as Nicole Dalkas, also made the cut (143) after missing as an amateur in 1998. Juli Inkster, the two-time U.S. Open champion, was among the seven who faltered, shooting 82-161.
Birdie Kim, who won the 2005 title, fell short after 77-158, as did 2009 winner Eun-Hee Ji, who finished 78-154.
2005 U.S. Amateur champion Morgan Pressel, battling tendinitis in her right thumb, withdrew after making a quintuple-bogey 10 on the par-4 14th hole. At the time, she was 15 over on her round and 17 over for the championship.
Angel Yin, 13, the youngest player in the championship, endured a difficult second round. Her 87 led to a 165 total.
Yin was among 28 amateurs in the field. Three qualified for the weekend, led by the world’s top-ranked amateur, Lydia Ko, 15, of Auckland, New Zealand, who shot 72-146. Emma Talley, 18, of Paducah, Ky. (75-148) and Alison Lee, 17, of Valencia, Calif., (74-149) also made the weekend.
Dave Shedloski is an Ohio-based freelance writer whose work has previously appeared on USGA websites.